Willow Foundation are a charity partner of the Arsenal Foundation. First in our series is 31 year-old Luke’s story…
“After having a grapefruit size tumour removed from my face and neck, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. This hit me for six. I was newly married with two small children, our life should have just been getting started yet I felt it was starting to end.
“I saw my haematologist who set my treatment plan and with that the chemo started. You hear how bad chemo is but I don’t think anyone would ever understand just how bad it makes you feel.
“I was lucky enough to have the best wife a man could ask for. When I was down she picked me up and when I felt sorry for myself she told me to pull myself together. As the chemo went on and with radiotherapy just around the corner, life was starting to beat us. It wasn’t just about me – my friends and family were living this nightmare with me.
“It was around then that a nurse told me about Willow. To be honest I thought it was too good to be true and I did wonder if anyone would be able to help me and my family find the light at the end of the tunnel again. We spoke to Willow and asked if they could help us with a vow renewal day.
“It wasn’t just about renewing our vows; it was about drawing a line under what had been, and looking forward to what will be. Planning this day gave us something to think about and look forward to; it gave us a new focus. Now we were talking about what we would do ‘when’ I beat this not ‘if’ I beat this.
“After a year the good news came that the treatment has worked and I was given the all clear. That meant the big day was near, looking back I think the best thing was everyone from our family and friends that had lived the hard times with us was able to celebrate the future together. The big day was wonderful and went without a hitch. We really could not have asked for a better day – it was something I will never forget.
“Thanks to Willow everyone was smiling again and talking about the good day we had just had instead of the terrible year we had just been through.”